The Benefits of Yoga for Men

When people walk by a yoga studio, they often see that it’s filled with pastel mats and glittery toenails. The idea of being in a class full of women inhaling, exhaling, and contorting the body into pretzel-like positions doesn’t sit well with a lot of men. In fact, most men wouldn’t be caught dead doing a downward dog in a pair of painted-on yoga pants.

Yoga is best known for its ability to improve flexibility and connect the mind with the body. Because of this, some men don’t see yoga as “real” exercise. They view it as something “women-folk” do to get their mind off of demanding bosses and cranky children. When guys hit the gym, they want to pump iron, grunt, and sweat. If they’re not doing any of these things, they don’t feel they are truly working out. There is no way all the bending, stretching, breathing, and breaking wind is beneficial. Right? Wrong indeed.

Yoga holds a lot of benefits for men. It can boost energy levels and speed up the healing process in the body. Yoga practice consists of a series of controlled movements. When you do the movements, you twist the body in a way that allows you to massage the adrenal glands, pancreas, and thyroid glands. This can ultimately help improve organ functioning and blood flow. Yoga can ease tension deep in the connective tissues and help realign your body. In addition, a PubMed study showed that the regular practice of yoga can improve reproductive health in men.

The benefits of yoga for men are endless. Yoga not only improves flexibility, but also energizes the body and boosts overall health. Beginners should go at their own pace. If you cannot hold the stretches for the recommend amounts of time, it’s no big deal. Hold them for as long as it’s comfortable, and build from there.


About Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga was developed by K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. The style of yoga is a flowing Vinyasa style and is based on the hatha yoga style developed by Varnana Rishi. Ashtanga is Sanskrit for “eight limbs,” which is in reference to the eight yoga limbs, found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Pattabhi Jois published a treatise on ashtanga yoga in 1958 and students in the West began arriving in Mysore in the early 1970s in order to learn first-hand how to benefit from the style of yoga that he had previously written about. Even after Pattabhi Jois died in 2009, his grandson Sharath taught Ashtanga to study with the master and deepen their understanding of the methods.

One of the primary focuses of ashtanga yoga is vinyasa flow, which includes mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, drishti and ujjayi breathing. All of these are a form of breathing techniques designed to control the flow of energy throughout the body. These include taking significant exhales of air and transferring the air into different parts of the body, including the abdomen and pelvic floor. There are three locks to control energy flow as well as the deep spiritual breathing.

This is a form of relaxation yoga that can provide a significant amount of inner peace as well as many other benefits.

If you decide to practice ashtanga, you will go through six different series, which you will progress through at your own pace. The first series is the most popular and is called Yoga Chikitsa. This is yoga therapy and will not only realign the spine but detoxify the body and build strength and stamina. There are 75 poses to go through and will take between an hour and a half and two hours to complete.

Poses and sequences include the sun salutation, standing and seated poses, backbends, and inversions. There will also be moments of relaxation to ensure the breathing is maintained throughout the asanas.

The second series, when you advance, is the Nadi Shodana. This is a purification of the nervous system. It will cleanse and strengthen the nervous system and channel energy through the body. This series can only be introduced when you are strong in the first series. It follows along the same progression as the primary series but will introduce new poses as well as variations of poses you are already familiar with.

There are also four advanced series, which is Sthira Bhaga, Sanskrit for divine stability. Pattabhi Jois had originally created two advanced series but later went back and divided them again into four series to ensure they were more readily available to a larger number of people. The poses found in these series include a number of difficult arm balances and should only be attempted by those who are advanced.

With many benefits of ashtanga yoga, you will be able to see an improvement in your health and well-being. This style of yoga requires a significant amount of breath synchronization as well as a progressive series of postures. These postures will produce intense heat throughout the body as well as a purifying sweat that is known to detoxify organs and muscles. The primary benefits are improved circulation as well as a calm mind and strong body.

Ashtanga yoga can be practiced by anyone of any level of fitness, though everyone is to start in the first series and go at a pace that is comfortable for them. This will allow you to take advantage of all of the benefits that comes with this form of yoga without advancing too quickly into poses that you are incapable of striking and holding.

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

In fall 2013, Reach will offer two workshops with Gabriel Halpern, a national workshop leader and master of Iyengar Yoga. If you aren’t sure what Iyengar is, read on! 

B.K.S. Iyengar is the yoga master behind the practice that bears his name. He was born in 1918 and began to teach yoga in 1935. His health problems prompted him to develop Iyengar yoga in an attempt to counteract the affects of tuberculosis on his body. Over the years, his style of yoga has become increasingly popular and is still taught today in many areas of the world.

Most forms of yoga strive to accomplish a certain purpose through a series of asanas or poses. In Iyengar yoga, the purpose is to realign the body and bring it back into a state of physical balance. The gentle shift from one pose to another allows the body to naturally regain its balance and realign the physical aspects of the body. As the student advances, breathing techniques are incorporated to enhance the experience and bring balance to a much deeper and spiritual level.

Various asanas are performed from standing, seated, supine, and bending positions. The tadasana poses are performed while the individual is standing. After stretching the arms upward, they are crossed in front of or in back of the body or allowed to remain at their sides. The dandasana, virasana and upavista kondasana are performed from a seating position with legs stretched out to the front, bent at the knees or spread outward to the sides, respectively. Each post provides strategic movements that help to realign the spine and musculoskeletal structures within the body.

The main objective of Iyengar yoga is to bring the body back into physical alighnment. As the body is realigned, it is believed the emotional and spiritual bodies will also begin to realign themselves. By using specific poses in conjunction with breathing techniques, the body begins to eliminate obstructions and imbalances and allows the body to gravitate back to a more natural position. As the student becomes more adept at the physical poses, they will begin to incorporate breathing techniques or Pranayama. Pranayama is the act of breathing that allows the body to utilize every motion to its fullest. The body will begin to adjust to the asanas faster and more completely when the breathing techniques are introduced.

Yoga has become synonymous with relaxation and meditation. Few people realize, however, the vast number of benefits yoga can provide. Its ability to realign and balance the body can create a solid foundation for health that prevents several different types of chronic illness. It strengths the heart and cardiovascular system by improving circulation and increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood stream. It also can dramatically increase the physical strength of an individual due to the resistance placed on the muscles and tissues.

Iyengar yoga fosters balance and helps the body regain natural vitality. The breathing techniques and muscle control used within the practice of yoga also benefits the mind. It allows for clearer thinking and better memory recall. Relaxation allows the mind to slow down and process information much more completely and efficiently.

Yoga is not only for the body. It can be a truly uplifting and spiritual experience, improving the mind and boosting the emotions. Its ability to help the body regain balance applies not only to the physical level, but every level of the human organism.


7 Yoga Myths & Rules You Should Break

Yoga is a method of exercise that originated in ancient India as part of several philosophies. In the late 19thcentury, yoga was introduced to the West. Here yoga is less of a philosophy and more of an exercise routine. Exercise studios and gyms throughout the U.S. have incorporated the movements of yoga into exercise sessions that provide a wealth of health benefits. However, there are several misunderstandings associated with yoga that prevent individuals from seeking out this gentle and effective form of physical and mental exercise.

Weightlifting and Yoga Don’t Go Together

Ever heard that you shouldn’t combine weightlifting and yoga in your regular exercise routine? Well, this myth is busted. Weightlifting and yoga each provide their own health benefits. For example, weightlifting reverses muscle loss that occurs with aging, as well as bone density and joint flexibility. Yoga promotes weight loss, stress reduction, and the ability to cope with depression. According to an article on Livestrong, My Yoga Online founder states that you should not feel like you need to choose either weightlifting or yoga. Instead mix the muscle-sculpting moves of weightlifting with the blood-flowing postures of yoga for an all-around great workout.

Yoga Sessions Must be Lengthy

One issue preventing individuals from practicing yoga is the misconception that yoga sessions must be longer than 45 minutes in order to be successful. However, mini yoga sessions are often more convenient for individuals with a busy schedule. Additionally, according to Fitness Baron, yoga sessions shorter than one hour have similar lasting benefits of lengthy sessions. Even with 20 minute sessions, yogis can gain joint mobility and flexibility, if the exercises are maintained as part of a regular weekly routine. Shorter sessions involving poses, such as sun salutations and Warrior I, can dramatically improve muscular strength, balance and flexibility. Learn a few sequences you like in class, and do them in shorter sessions at home.

All Yogis Practice Vegetarianism

While many yogis do follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, this is more related to the philosophy of Ahimsa. According to the Aura Wellness Center, this ideal follows that you should avoid doing harm. Followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and other ancient religious beliefs feel that Ahimsa means that one should not consume animal products, and thereby are vegetarian. For yogis who do not follow the religious philosophy of Ahimsa, they may feel they want to become vegetarian for other purposes. However, there is no prerequisite that you must be a vegetarian in order to be a yogi. Furthermore, being a vegetarian is not directly related to the success of performing the postures of yoga.

Yoga is a Religion

This is a common myth that prevents many devout Christians and other believers of Western religions from practicing yoga. Yoga is not a religion, but it is used in religious philosophies. It is directly related to several Eastern schools of philosophy including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. These groups use yoga postures as a natural remedy for managing stress, physical ailments, and mental issues. Additionally, yoga is practiced for meditation by several of the Eastern philosophies as a way to clear the mind of chatter so they are better able to hear their inner voice.

Poses Must be Perfect

Yoga is not a competitive sport. Everyone who practices yoga poses is at a different place in their physical abilities including flexibility. The movements of yoga involve stretching, balancing and strengthening limbs and muscles. Therefore, yoga is a progressive exercise rather than a static action. Additionally there are several schools of yoga including Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, Naked yoga, and Forrest yoga. Within each school there may be 20 or 2,000 poses associated with that form of practice. As a result, there is no way possible for anyone to perfect every single pose in yoga.

Yoga is Not Associated with Weight Loss

If you want to improve your physique so that you look better, yoga is an ideal exercise. In addition to the inner benefits of stress reduction, mood enhancement and calming, you will improve your outer body. Through more strenuous yoga schools, such as Hot yoga, Rocket yoga, or Bando yoga, you can achieve weight loss if you stick with the exercise routine. Of course you should also follow a healthy diet that correlates with weight loss in addition to exercise, so no eating a burger with a shake after each yoga session.

Yoga Should Not be Commercialized

We live in a capitalist society where everything possible is commercialized. It is the American way of life. However, there is the notion that yoga should not be commercialized because it may in some way detract from the benefits of this exercise. Establishing yoga classes with trained yoga teachers who are paid by students is not a bad thing. In our social system, this method provides more opportunities for yoga students to practice this form of exercise. Additionally, in creating this system, the competitive nature of capitalism provides that studios and yoga teachers are professionally trained and certified, as well as at the top of their game. For students interested in practicing yoga in the Western world, they should embrace the benefits of commercialism and then focus on practicing yoga for themselves.

Yoga is a powerful way to improve your body and mind. Once you’ve decided to break these eight rules and practice yoga you have plenty of options. If you can’t practice in a studio or take a yoga class, which is the ideal, opt for yoga videos and illustrated books for at-home practice. The key is to get started if you want to benefit from this holistic form of exercise.

Find Your Yoga Regimen Again After The Holidays With These 4 Tips

Are you getting a bloated and sluggish feeling as the holidays are coming to an end?

You would love to get back into doing yoga, but you may be wondering how you should start again. You don’t want to do it for only a few days and then give up again. Also, you don’t want to injure yourself by doing too much at one time.

Return to your yoga routine again in a safe and healthy manner with these four simple tips. With consistency and determination, you will reach your fitness level and start feeling great as you shed away those holiday pounds.

Yoga Tip #1: Plan It Out

One of the hardest things when trying to get restarted at any fitness exercise is finding the time to do it in your busy schedule. Hopefully, your life has a bit more free time now that the holidays are over. Get out your new calendar and pencil in the days when you can get some yoga in. To make sure you stick with the schedule, get your yoga mat and clothes ready the day before. This mentally prepares you to push yourself into doing the exercise the next day.

Yoga Tip #2: Start Slow

You are eager to get back into those favorite yoga poses. But it may have been awhile since you performed these exercises. Never push yourself too hard when restarting your yoga regimen. You can hurt yourself when not paying attention to your physical limits.

Start out slow with a few stretches and breathing exercises. Slowly move into your favorite easy positions, then later work yourself into more advanced poses. If, at any time, you feel like you are straining your body into a position you aren’t comfortable with, stop immediately.

Yoga Tip #3: Get Into A Class

Sometimes, the reason why you can’t get back into the mental mindset of doing yoga is because you are doing it alone. Find encouragement by taking a yoga class. This not only helps to re-energize you into taking yoga as you will receive encouragement from the other yoga students, but the instructor can make sure you don’t overdo it too quickly. Take a class that is below your level, and work back up to where you previously were as your body gets used to the routine.

Yoga Tip #4: Track Your Progress

Sticking with your yoga regimen can be as simple as tracking how many times each month you practice. It’s a great way to keep yourself mentally focused to continue with the fitness exercises. You can create milestones to reach, then reward yourself with a small gift for the job well done. Increase the number of milestones every month or two.

You Will Be Back On The Yoga Mat In No Time

As you restart your yoga regimen, you may become discouraged because you aren’t at the level you want to be or because something in your life may make you occasionally miss a class. Keep positive. Every day you are working out on that mat is a victory on your part.

You can overcome these simple obstacles by staying consistent and being determined in your yoga exercises. Don’t be afraid to change your plans around until the schedule works out for you. Also, you will one day reach your fitness level again as you continue on to your ultimate reward of a healthy body and relaxed mind.

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